Like the first two “Scary Movie” spoofs created by the Wayans Brothers, “A Haunted House 2” mixes an almost negligible horror parody plotline with an array of jokes and sight gags ranging from slapstick to extreme vulgarity. The success of the film realistically lies within the impressively low budget; however, many of the hijinks in the first act display a talent for well-crafted situational and verbal comedy unbounded from financial restrictions. There’s a fine line between edgy and distasteful and an even more delicate balance in utilizing restraint to prevent the japes from becoming overwrought. More often than not, “A Haunted House 2” lacks the prudence to stop while it’s ahead.
Attempting to put his haunted past behind him, Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) moves into a new house with his girlfriend Megan (Jaime Pressly) and her children Becky (Ashley Rickards) and Wyatt (Steele Stebbins). But it’s not long before he’s once again surrounded by supernatural events and a host of unexplainable phenomena. When Malcolm finds a box of old 8 mm film and spies a ghostly apparition in the footage, he unwittingly unleashes a demonic force intent on destroying him. Enlisting the aid of his neighbor (Gabriel Iglesias), an unorthodox pastor (Cedric the Entertainer), and renowned paranormal investigators Ned (Hayes MacArthur) and Noreen (Missi Pyle), Malcolm must find a way to stop the fiendish phantom’s diabolical agenda.
The jokes that work best in “A Haunted House 2” are the ones unrelated to the plot – and the ones devoid of crass sexual displays. Jabs at stereotypes are expected but still humorous, while the multitude of animal pranks excels at creating escalating goofiness. Even a few gross-out gags muster laughs. But a general unbridled nature to the scenarios quickly degenerates clever ideas into tedium when the obscenities are carried on for far too long. Ironically, the scenes mimicking modern horror films like “Sinister,” “The Conjuring” and the “Paranormal Activity” sequels are the most stale - with some sequences disturbing enough they handily quell laughter completely.
“A Haunted House 2” is essentially a one-man show, with Marlon Wayans as the clear centerpiece in the majority of memorable moments. His charisma and over-the-top style of theatrics drive the comedy and, though supporting comedians like Gabriel Iglesias and Cedric the Entertainer get a handful of decent one-liners, it’s Wayans that will make or break the enjoyment for the audience. A quick examination of the film’s trailer will reveal everything potential viewers require to gauge their level of interest.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)